Equality - Responsibilities

The Equality Act 20130 came into force on 1 October 2010.  Its purpose was to consolidate a number of Acts and Regulations previously forming the basis of anti-discriminatory law in Great Britain. 

It mirrors the European Union Equality Treatment Directives and requires equal treatment in access to employment, as well as private and public services, regardless of the protected characteristics of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. 

There are specific exceptions, including occupations such as, for example, priests, monks, nuns, rabbis and ministers of religion.

The Public Sector Equality Duty (para. 149 Equality Act 2010) came into effect on 5 April 2011.  It requires that those subject to the equality duty must, in the exercise of their function, have due regard to the need to:

  1. Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct prohibited by the Act.
  2. Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.
  3. Foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.
  4. These are the three aims of the General Equality Duty.

General practices are subject to this general duty in respect of public functions;  for example, this would include all the facets of contact with patients and their representatives and all employees of public sector organisations,  such as CCGs, trusts, etc., that relate to visit and work in practices.

An example of a breach of general equality duties is where a petition against same sex marriage is left in a staffroom for the GPs, nurses and others to sign.  People are obviously entitled to hold a view on such issues but promotion of these views should be in a private capacity or through organisations not covered by the general equality duty.

Practices are advised to be aware of their public service equality duty and consider this carefully and seriously in most of the activities within their business.

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Updated on Wednesday, 23 October 2019